Why is Running Good for your Mental Health?

Anxiety Can Manifest Anywhere

We were at one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen. Hiking up the hill to tour another castle in the rolling mountains of Switzerland. We were on a family vacation in 2017. This vacation was out of a dream. The sights, getting immersed in the new culture, the new foods, everything was so beautiful and exciting.

So why did I have so many negative thoughts rushing through my head? Why was I being berated by worry thoughts and worst-case scenarios. Welcome to life with anxiety! The anxiety will find any chance it can get to sneak into your life at the most inopportune moments and ruin everything.

Anxiety is like weeds that grow in a beautiful garden. You are distracted from seeing the pretty flowers because the ugly weeds are getting in the way. If you have anxiety like me, you probably have a lot of weeds in your garden.

What Do I Need?

I took a moment to do some introspection. My mind went to my therapist, Bebe who always knew how to make me feel better. I couldn’t talk to Bebe because I was in Switzerland and back then people didn’t really do virtual appointments. So I would have to solve this one myself.

What would Bebe tell me to do? Then I remembered the question that Bebe asked me a lot. “What do you need?” When I asked myself this question, “What do I need?”, I realized that I had not run at all since we had arrived in Europe a few days prior. Then it hit me: I need to run.

I knew that running would make me feel better. It always did. Since we had been on vacation, my routine was completely off. Not to mention the time change probably affected my mood.

Running for Wellness

So when we got back to the hotel I went to the hotel gym and went for a run. I immediately felt so much better! I went on a few more runs on that trip, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip and be truly present.

This made me really wonder…why is running good for your mental health? There are many benefits to running or jogging. It turns out that running increases concentrations of norepinephrine in the body, a chemical that helps moderate the body’s response to stress.

A Chemical Solution

Running can control stress and improve the body’s ability to deal with mental tension. The chemicals released during and after runs can help people with anxiety feel calmer.

It’s really amazing that running can provide a solution anxiety relief that is scientifically proven to help you feel better! This is what I love most about running!

While running can be an amazing source of relief for those of us with anxiety, it in no way replaces professional help. I love the anxiety benefits of running, but I also see a therapist and take medication. There is no shame in getting additional support if you need it. Check out my Mental Health Resources page for some additional resources.

Life is too short to suffer in silence.

Happy Running!

Other blog posts you might like:

Linking up with Runner’s Roundup! Mile by MileConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, Coach Debbie Runs, and Laura Norris Running

Why is Running Good for your Mental Health?

39 Comments

  1. I like that you are able to ask yourself, “what do you need”? Sometimes asking ourselves that and listening to and respecting the answer is huge. Running sure can be a huge mental boost for me!

  2. There are lots of studies showing that running can have the same level of effectiveness as anti-depressant medications. Like you pointed out of course, it’s not a substitute for professional help. Great article, thanks!

    1. Yes, I totally agree! Thanks Jenny!

  3. I always say that running is my therapy. If I can’t run for a few days I start to feel restless and grumpy.
    Next time you’re in Switzerland, let me know and we can go running together!
    In which part were you?

    1. Yes, that is the same for me! That sounds great! I can’t wait to travel again once the pandemic calms down! We visited Lausanne, Luzerne, and Geneva! All so beautiful! The running picture on my post was taken next to Lake Lucerne.

  4. Running definitely helps me when I am feeling anxious too. I love that running has so many mental health benefits!

    1. Lisa, that’s great! Thank you!

  5. Running is a great way to help manage anxiety and negativity. Thank you so much for the reminder that it’s not a replacement for actual medical intervention. It’s so easy to think we have everything under control, but there’s no shame in needing other kinds of support as well.

  6. While running cannot substitute professional help, lots of studies show it can be as effective as SSRIs. It gives such a mood boost and bolsters the mind in ways that translate to real life!

    1. Thanks Laura. I totally agree.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story — it will help so many people, people you’ll never even know about.

    Running is such a great way to change our moods. Of course so is Yoga. 🙂

  8. Mental health is the biggest perk to run. I know that even if I don’t feel like running such as weather or fatigue when I am done I always feel better. I tell people that the first step out the door is the hardest.

    Running in Switzerland would be a dream come through. Lucky you.

    1. Thank you Darlene! You’re so right.

  9. Such a timely post. I started running in my 20s because of debilitating anxiety. Now, 30 years later, it’s back…thank goodness for running. It always makes me feel better. Tough times right now.

    1. Wendy, thanks for sharing. I am so glad running helps you too. Times are very tough right now!

  10. I definitely workout to support mental health!

    1. That is great Mariah! Thank you!

  11. Thanks for being open and honest about your struggles. I totally agree that life is too short to suffer in silence. There’s power in community! 🙂 Great post!

  12. I absolutely agree! My son was feeling anxious at night and not sleeping, so we started daily running! It helped soo much!

    1. That’s great! I’m so glad to hear it’s helping him! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I agree, running really does make a massive difference in mood 🙂

  14. I use to run on the treadmill a lot but then I got bored perhaps i might pick it up again

  15. Does running outside or inside differ? I imagine being outside is what helps with clarity and reducing stress and a treadmill in a gym wouldn’t do it, but I’m just assuming and have no idea!

    1. I don’t think it really matters. Regardless of location, when you run, your body produces chemicals that make you feel good. I do find running outside a bit more enjoyable because I like to get out in nature and see the sun!

  16. Yes! Couldn’t agree more. If I am stressed or.anxious, exercising is an instant mood booster for me. Cool to read of the science behind it!

  17. It still amazes me how much I feel better after going for a run, even if it isn’t the “best’ run that I hoped for. And I love the analogy about weeds in the garden when it comes to anxiety…I can certainly relate to that!

    1. Yes! It’s amazing how that works!

  18. I agree with this so much! I can feel the difference when I have had a good run. I haven’t really been able to run lately due to some health stuff and other forms of cardio just are not the same.

    1. I know what you mean! I hope you’re able to return to running soon!

  19. Running is one of the things that helped keep me positive through 2020. I really consider it run therapy.

    1. That’s great! I feel the same way!

  20. very true! running is my alone time to process and understand whatever Im going through many wont understand it but once they try it is so good. Also love to running on vacations 🙂

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